Business network looking for members

A new chapter of Business Network International (BNI) has formed in the East End.

Lee Welbanks of Welbanks Mortgage Group said the Leslieville chapter includes several Kingston Road businesses including his own Welbanks Mortgage group, Ilavsky chartered accountants and Snider and DiGregorio barristers and solicitors.

The group is still half a dozen members short of attaining full chapter status, but it is well on its way.

The idea behind BNI is a small group of local business professionals who meet weekly and pass any applicable business to members in their own chapter. Only one member of a particular profession is allowed in each chapter.

The Leslieville group, which meets weekly at Mayfair Lakeshore for breakfast, has 14 members, covering professions including residential real estate agent, mortgage broker, accountant, painter, photographer and videographer, auto body, roofer, landscaper, investment advisor, life insurance, web designer, computer tech/IT, naturopath and lawyer.

BNI in Canada has over 5,800 members, and the organization claims almost $150 million in business passed between Canadian members in the past 12 months. Welbanks said he had “$16,000 in additional commissions I generated last year through BNI, so certainly for me it’s working.

“It’s great. Of all the networking groups that are out there, it’s got a little more structure, they’re more result-oriented versus other groups I’ve been a member of over the years,” he said.

While Welbanks has been a member of several networking groups, for the last three or four years he has belonged to a BNI chapter based downtown. He said he joined the new group to be part of a network closer to home.

“I certainly I find that it works, otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed in it this long,” he said. “For me it definitely is worth my time.”

The Leslieville chapter is actively looking for more members – to reach official chapter status a network needs 21 members. Welbanks said the group is looking to add a chiropractor, massage therapist, travel agent, printer and personal trainer, preferably from the East End.

“We’re trying to build our presence within the neighbourhood, as a group and individually, so we would prefer to work with businesses that are local in nature,” he said.

The Leslieville BNI chapter meets Wednesday mornings. For more information phone Lee Welbanks at 416-698-9990 or email

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